Things in Santa Cruz have pretty much returned to normal- apart from the rubble that is still piled up in the streets. The council has started to remove all this and hopefully in a couple of weeks it'll all be gone. Tourism is clearly down, but the hotels are still doing ok with lots of business from technicians and other professionals sent to the area to assist after the earthquake.
The weather has turned distinctly Autumnal, so the big priority is to get everyone who has lost their home under a roof, even if it's temporary. To that end, I am incredibly proud to say that our fundraising effort for the village of Poblacion was highly successful.
Thanks to the generosity of friends, family and local businesses, our group raised over $20 million Pesos (a little over us$40,000), which is enough to buy the materials for about 90 mediaguas, or emergency homes. You can find more information about the project over at Saving Poblacion, which will be updated about once a week over the comings months.
There's still a hell of a lot of work to be done in Colchagua to restore the architectural heritage of the region (which is inextricably linked with tourism here), but the most important thing right now is to make sure people aren't out in the open during Winter. Phase two of the plans will involve rebuilding the towns and villages as they were.
I'm off to Mendoza for the weekend- to be honest, I need a break from Chile and the earthquake. I can't wait to catch up with my friends over there- who I haven't seen for exactly two years- and to eat as much steak as my body will hold...